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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #815

Action Comics #815

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 12, 2004

Cover date: July 2004

Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Marc Campos

"Superman vs Gog: Endtimes"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash walk down Smallville's main street, with Kid Flash commenting that the town is small and boring. Wonder Girl says it's a cute place, and Flash looks up as something comes crashing into the middle of the town.

In the Daily Planet, Clark argues over the phone with Lois about her not telling him about his demotion. He tells her that the only thing worse than getting demoted and not being told by your wife, would be being replaced by Jack Ryder. Clark turns at that moment to find Ryder standing there. Ryder tells Clark that he understands him being bitter, and its part of the reason he took the job. Before Clark can say anything to Ryder, he hears Superboy calling him. Running down the hall to the supply closet, Clark tears off his shirt.

In Smallville, Gog forces Superboy to the ground, strangling him. Gog asks if Superman is coming, and when Superboy smiles Gog throws Superboy through a truck. Standing over Superboy, Gog raises his spear and prepares to deliver the killing blow.

Superman slams into Gog and forces him to the ground. Swooping back around Kal hits him in the back Wonder Girl and Kid Flash zip up to Superboy as Superman is suddenly hurled into a nearby tree. Superman sends Kid Flash and Wonder Girl to take care of the civilians and then tells Superboy to head back to the Kent farm. Superboy tries to argue, but before he can Gog erupts from the ground.

Superman flies in and delivers a series of devastating punches to Gog's head, forcing him back to the ground. Wonder Girl and Kid Flash return, and Superman tells them to get to safety. Pulling himself up, Gog tells Superman that he and all of his progeny will die horribly. Grabbing Gog by the helmet, Superman slams Gog's head into the pavement. As he stands over Gog, the villain suddenly lunges up, plunging his spear into Superman's stomach.

4Story - 4: This is a generally good issue that's plagued with a lot of small problems. I like the appearance of the Titans, and I like even more that Kal is using them to help find Doomsday. It's good to see some interaction between all of the metahumans in the DCU every now and then. It's nice to see Kon especially. Superboy is a great character that hasn't been used in the Super books for far too long and I'm glad that that's going to be changing. Gog is a good villain to bring back, especially since 'The Kingdom' really didn't use his potential at all. In this issue he was cool. He firmly beat down Superboy and was all set to take Superman on. Finally, as promised, in Action we got lots and lots of Action.

Now for the bad.

First off, why does Smallville have 110,000 people? That is not small, no matter what Kid Flash says. Smallville is supposed to be a dinky little farm town. The large population in the TV show was always a big problem for me. Even to make it a medium-sized city shouldn't put it above 30,000. Then there is Jack Ryder getting Clark's job. That's right; they gave Clark's job to the Creeper. Now I can accept his demotion, but Perry would never EVER hire Ryder. Then there is Austen's habit of trying to make Superman into Spider-man. Superman does not make jokes at his villains. He does not tell Superboy he looks like hell (Superman should not swear unless there is a serious reason to, and telling Superboy he looks beat up does not qualify). Then he launches a series of quips at Gog that almost directly mirror what he did to the guys in the train last issue. That's just not Superman's style, and I wish Austen would stop trying to change it.

Regardless of these few problems, it's still a solid issue that I enjoy. Chuck just needs to realize that he's writing Clark Kent and not Peter Parker.

5Art - 5: As I've said in the past, I love Reis' work. It's nice and clean, and his splash pages are fantastic. The whole battle with Gog was very well done, and even the scenes with Clark in the Planet look good. The only concern I have is the heavy use of splash pages, but that could be Austen's scripts calling for them, so I really can't pin that on the artists. There's not much else to say other than I really like these guys and I look forward to seeing their stuff again next month.

5Cover Art - 5: As Neal got to review the issue last month, this is my first issue with the new cover logo, and I'll review it accordingly. I LOVE this cover. All I have ever wished for on the Action Comics covers was a return to the old logo and here it is. Combine that with the no-frills look in general (no boxes, bars, or anything of the sort) and that fantastic bust of Superman breaking the chains up in the corner and you've got a winner. Just a few weeks ago I was paging through my recent books and thought to myself, "Why do I have an old issue out", and then I realized it was issue #814 with the retro logo. That's exactly the kind of reaction you should have for one of the longest running comic titles. Absolutely fantastic, and about time.

Now onto this issue's cover in particular. Gog appears in the book, and he does on the cover. The Teen Titans are inside, and they show up here too. Hey, even Superman makes an appearance. We finally have someone doing the covers that knows how to do a cover. The same thing that happens inside is depicted symbolically on the cover. Look, Superman is messed up but Wonder Girl and Kid Flash aren't! I know this sounds simple, but look at a lot of the crap we've been getting lately. See, this wasn't that hard.

Good cover qualities aside, the art is good, and although the sky is lacking a background I think that lends itself well to the plain title logo, so I really can't fault the cover for that. One concern I do have is that there seems to be a predilection towards covers looking between a character's legs. We've got a cover coming up soon with a beaten-up Superman lying on the ground, seen through Wonder Woman's legs (personally, I'd rather be between Diana's legs than Gog's... but I digress), so I hope that we don't have a cover with this format every other month, but this is still a fantastic cover.

And even if it wasn't, it would still have that fantastic logo!

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